Czech 2005 prospects: Petr Kalus

By Robert Neuhauser

The Vitkovice junior team is one of the youngest squads to hit the Czech junior Extraleague ice this season. The roster includes some very promising NHL prospects, who will be talked about coming the next three NHL Entry Drafts. One of them is 2005 eligible center Petr Kalus.

Petr Kalus is one of the few prospects who still have the theoretical possibility of sharing the lockerroom with his father. Petr Kalus, Sr. is now playing center for Novy Jicin in the Czech Div II league and he was of course the main force who brought the young Petr to the game of hockey. A native of Ostrava, Czech Republic, Kalus followed his father to the games and practices as soon as he could walk and therefore was familiar with hockey surroundings. When he was five years old, he was eager to begin a career of his own. His father enrolled him at the Vitkovice team, which is the Extraleague franchise based in Ostrava. So from the very first beginnings Petr could learn from an experienced coaching staff in a traditional Czech team.

He didn’t think of playing defense or goal. His father plays forward and Kalus wanted to be just like him, including wearing the same number on his sweater, 22. The entry level team coaches had no problems with this and slotted Kalus at the center position. A competitive kid, Kalus was working hard both on and off the ice to be better than the competition. He had also his father’s tips at his disposal and now it was up to him to take advantage of this. At the mere age of seven Kalus reached his first individual success as he won the Best forward trophy at a tournament of the 2nd grade team in Karvina, Czech Republic.

Petr Kalus, nicknamed ‘Kalousek’ from his surname, was doing various skating drills during his young days, because he felt that his speed and agility are one of his strongest assets and wanted to build on this. That along with his winning attitude resulted into the coaches awarding him with a ‘C’ on his jersey prior to the season when Kalus should start playing for the 4th grade team of Vitkovice. That meant increased responsibility, but Kalus met the expectations well. In a region where hockey rules, lots of prospects are developed and at pee-wee age it was clear that Petr Kalus is blossoming into a good one.

He had his season for the 6th grade team hampered with a salmonellosis, but recovered from this disease just in time when former NHL defenseman Milos Holan took over the coaching duties on the Vitkovice 6th grade team. At that time Petr’s life didn’t consist only from hockey and school. He liked to play soccer in his free time and so he joined the Medvedi Ostrava soccer team. Kalus spent one year with playing the pee-wee soccer league, but said goodbye to this sport after he saw that it is too demanding time-wise.

The unhappy salmonellosis holdout cost Kalus the captain’s role, but he could bounce back and after an impressive showing for the 7th grade team he was the Vitkovice 1987-borns captain again in the season when they performed for the 8th grade. Now under head coach Radek Kuridym was Petr Kalus preparing for the jump to the midget ranks. He averaged more than two points per game for the 8th grade team of Vitkovice in 2000-2001, scoring 52 points for 27 goals and 25 assists in just 24 games, finishing fifth in team scoring and 30th in 8th grade overall scoring.

Petr Kalus is a slippery skater with above-average quickness and rapid change of pace. An agile forward, Kalus possesses sharp skills and solid speed. He is a smooth puckhandler and can maneuver in traffic using his nifty stick moves. Kalus uses his good vision to make timely decisions with the puck, but has also considerable finishing skills. He releases his wrist shots quickly and with a good accuracy. He could use a harder slap shot. A valuable asset to the powerplay units, Kalus is a threat in one-on-one situations. He is a coachable guy and shows a good attitude. He doesn’t play afraid, but he tends to show his nasty edge only occasionally and needs to add bulk to his 6’0”, 165 lbs. frame. More of an offensive forward, Kalus has to display a bigger commitment to the defensive aspect of the game. When his intensity drops off sometimes, he tends to just circle in the neutral zone. Kalus admires the tenacious Calgary Flames draft pick Radek Duda and calls him his role model.

In 2001-2002 he picked up where he left in the previous season and was a leading force of the Vitkovice 9th grade team, proving that he deserves a shot in the midget Extraleague rather sooner than later. Vitkovice midgets head coach Bretislav Bochensky was aware of this and promoted Kalus to the midget team at midseason. The underaged forward had to deal with higher physical demands and faster pace of the midget Extraleague, resulting into Kalus registering just one point for an assist in his first 12 midget games, along with an even +/- and 8 PIMs. After such an cold debut Vitkovice midget brass labeled Kalus as expendable and loaned him to the nearby Sareza Ostrava midget team.

In Ostrava Kalus could still play in the midget Extraleague, but shared a much bigger portion of playing time than in Vitkovice as the Ostrava team wasn’t so well-stocked with quality prospects. Kalus blossomed under the workload and Ostrava midgets head coach Karel Metelka has let him show what he is capable of. Kalus saved the season with 4 goals scored in the 9 games he played in Ostrava and could look forward to the challenges of the new season.

The next season, 2002-03, Petr Kalus registered a red-hot start in the midget Extraleague. Playing on a line with fellow 2005 prospects Vladimir Svacina and Jakub Dusek. Kalus averaged more than a point per game, quickly hitting the front ranks in the scoring race. No wonder that the parent Vitkovice team started to be interested in Kalus again and ended his loan in Sareza Ostrava. He dressed out for 18 games for Ostrava in 2002-03, notching 22 points for 3 goals and 19 assists, an even +/- and 14 PIMs.
Upon his return to Vitkovice Kalus was sent to the midget team, where he could overcome a shaky start and put up points regularly just like showing his mean streak. Petr Kalus played 10 games for the Vitkovice midgets, registering 4 points for 3 goals and 1 assists, an even +/- and 37 PIMs.
Vitkovice juniors head coach Mojmir Trlicik liked what he saw from Kalus at the midget level and decided to give him a shot on the junior team as an underager. There he looked a bit overwhelmed by the pace but he should learn as much as he can for his full-time promotion in 2003-04. Kalus obviously did, even if he went scoreless in the 11 junior Extraleague games he played in 2002-03.

The 2002-03 season also served as Petr Kalus’ entry on the international stage. He pulled off a solid showing at the summer evaluation camp and the Czech Under-16 team coaches Bretislav Kopriva and Vladimir Bednar invited him to two tournaments of the Under-16 team schedule. The first was a three-game series against the Under-16 team of Russia and Kalus emerged as one of the leading Czech scorers with 4 points for 1 goal and 3 assists. His stats didn’t dip below the one point per game mark also at the second tournament, a three-game series against the Under-16 team of Slovakia. There Kalus registered three helpers to close out his inaugural international season.

Kalus made use of his stint with the junior team from the previous season and looks now fully accustomed to the junior Extraleague. He appeared in five junior games so far in 2003-04, averaging nearly one point per game with 4 points for 2 goals and 2 assists, an even +/- and 2 PIMs.

In August 2003, Petr Kalus was invited to the Five Nations Tournament of the Under-17 teams, played in Prievidza, Slovakia. He opened his 2003-04 international season with a decent showing, scoring 3 points for 1 goal and 2 assists in four games.

He is a huge music fan, in his free time he has always music surrounding him, with the groups ATV and Outlandisch being his favorites. School is another thing he has to focus, Kalus is learning to be a chef and is in the second year of his studies. He lists Chinese food with strawberry juice as the dish he prefers most. When he has a free while, he goes to play soccer with his friends. He remained a soccer fan from the time he played organized soccer at the pee-wee level.

The next season will probably be his biggest challenge. Represented by agent Rudolf Crha, Kalus has expressed interest in coming over to play in the CHL in 2004-05 in order to boost his draft stock for 2005.